Studio owner, chiropractor, and hot-yoga enthusiast Dr. Bridget Brasfield helps her students to hone mind-body awareness through therapeutic yoga practice. Her studio heats up to a balmy 95 degrees to help even the most rigid of students to stretch and strengthen as they flow through a series of poses. As a result of the heat, students can also expect to sweat out the naturally occurring toxins that stem from everyday living and daily attempts to become superhuman via lab mishaps.
When asked about their teaching qualifications, the instructors at Finney's HIT Squad?including Jesse Finney himself?all point to their win records. All of them have a competitive fighting history in their chosen disciplines, and several have earned championships or black belts. As full-time employees of the gyms, they school guests on MMA, kickboxing, boxing, Brazilian jujitsu, and wrestling. They also access their inside knowledge of the industry for fighter-development programs, which strive to transform beginners into professional combatants without stuffing them into hollowed-out punching-bag cocoons for 5 years. For amateurs and experts alike, they assert that "you fight how you train," and aim to simulate official rounds inside their onsite cages, boxing rings, and matted arenas. In 2011, their professional chops helped Finney's HIT Squad take the title of Best MMA Gym in the Riverfront Times Best of St Louis feature.
Despite their investment in competitions, however, the staffers view the two gyms as all-inclusive spaces. Whether they are instilling confidence in children through kids' jujitsu, orienting a new member to the fitness equipment, or leading a women-only martial-arts class, they mentor students of all backgrounds.
Finney?s Hit Squad's clients have diverse goals?learn to throw a punch, train for a fight, shed pounds, or generally have fun?but the perks are the same for all. Exercise enthusiasts find a full-service gym with all the strength and cardio tools needed to achieve total fitness, and a packed schedule includes classes that range from Zumba to Brazilian jujitsu. 3,000 square feet of Hammer Strength weightlifting equipment inspires members to build bulk, while a competition cage, boxing ring, and grappling area offer an easy place to test the skills learned in coed boxing classes or from watching Rocky 90 times.
Club Fitness makes exercise accessible, offering dozens of group classes to participants of all fitness levels at more than 20 locations throughout the St. Louis area. Teams of instructors lead lessons in activities such as cycling, ab-focused exercises, kickboxing, Pilates, yoga, and Zumba aerobics.
Above all else, Bikram Yoga emphasizes personal growth and development?not competition and comparison. That means newcomers are welcome to attend alongside experienced practitioners. Although the sessions at Bikram Yoga St. Louis may seem like a more physical challenge at first, the goal is for students to recognize and strengthen the connection that exists between the mind, body, and spirit. This progress does bolster physical fitness, but also creates a restorative and relaxing experience.
While teaching jazz dance in the 1960s, Judi Sheppard Missett decided to step away from tradition by offering an experimental class that allowed her students to simply dance without the judgment of mirrors or the constraints of rigid technique. In these sessions, she began infusing popular dance moves with specific fitness workouts to forge a distinctive blend of cardio exercise, strength training, and dance instruction. Little did she know that this “just for fun” class was the prototype for what would become the national fitness sensation known as Jazzercise.
Today, Jazzercise takes its aerobic techniques from a variety of sources that include jazz dance, hip-hop, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, and kickboxing. The class formats, which vary according to different toning goals, are just as diverse as the program's move set. Two-time Dancing with the Stars champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of the improvisational routines, although her advanced skills aren't needed to get the most out of classes. Instructors cultivate a noncompetitive atmosphere where all exercisers—with the exception of those marked as cursed by jazz-hand palm readers—are welcome regardless of age, build, or fitness background.